CARSON, Calif. – Winger Christian Wilhelmsson, whom reports in Sweden say is about to sign with the LA Galaxy, trained with the team on Friday at The Home Depot Center, according to a report on the club’s “LA Galaxy Insider” blog.
A player who resembled the 32-year-old Swede was spotted heading into the closed training session wearing a No. 9 shirt and could be seen running laps during the session, but the Galaxy would not confirm the identity of the player.
Swedish daily Aftonbladet reported on Thursday that the veteran, a free agent after his contract with Saudi club Al-Hilal expired in the spring, was in Los Angeles to finalize a deal. His agent, Fabio Alho, was quoted in the newspaper that the Galaxy have made an offer and that interest also exists in Russia and the Middle East.
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena declined to comment on the report on Friday.
“You know when we sign a player, we announce it,” he told reporters. “We don't go into the rumor mill. We've been pretty accurate in the things we say, so if there's an opportunity to sign a player, you’ll be aware of it.”
Wilhelmsson is a Swedish national team veteran who played in the 2006 World Cup and three European Championships. He made substitute appearances in all three of Sweden's group-stage matches at Euro 2012.
He has played for AS Roma, Bolton and Deportivo La Coruña on loan deals from French club Nantes and spent three seasons with Belgian power Anderlecht. He was with Al-Hilal since 2008 but spent last fall on loan at Al-Ahli in Qatar.
Arena was nonplussed when asked whether the new face at Galaxy training was Wilhelmsson, crytically saying No. 9 was a player named “Joe Butler” who supposedly played for the Virginia Beach Mariners, a former USL club that was dissolved five years ago.